UH Medical School Lab to Begin COVID-19 Testing Operations TODAY

October 19, 2020, 4:05 PM HST · Updated October 19, 4:05 PM
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Walk-up COVID-19 tests will be available to the public in an outdoor area in Kaka‘ako beginning on Monday, Oct. 19. Courtesy photo.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and University of Hawaiʻi’s John A. Burns School of Medicine begin COVID-19 testing operations today at the new JABSOM Tropical Medicine Lab. The program expands the COVID-19 surge capacity for traditional diagnostic tests and will prioritize access to underserved, uninsured and front-line workers who may require multiple tests for workplace safety.

The JABSOM lab will be able to administer nucleic acid tests at an outdoor walk-up testing site in Kaka‘ako with the ability to get test results back within 24 to 48 hours.  In addition, the lab will be working with Community Health Centers across O‘ahu to perform and process COVID-19 tests.

The testing program will expand on-island COVID-19 testing capacity by nearly 500 tests a day during a week where O‘ahu is beginning to welcome back visitors through the State’s pre-travel testing program and as the city continues to move through Honolulu’s Reopening Strategy.

“This partnership with the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the City and County of Honolulu will provided testing to those who might otherwise not have access to it,” said Mayor Caldwell. “This virus doesn’t discriminate, and as we continue to open up our economy, we need to keep testing to know where in our community the virus is hiding. The Burns School of Medicine, the only lab associated with an institution of higher learning in Hawai‘i, adds testing capacity in an extremely crucial time in this pandemic.”

Photo courtesy: City and County of Honolulu.

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“We are deeply grateful to Mayor Caldwell and his time for supporting the startup of our new testing lab,” said University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner. “This not only enables us to help ensure adequate testing across Oʻahu, but we will be able to explore innovations in testing for COVID-19 that can remove barriers to pervasive testing for all. I especially want to credit Dr. Vivek Nerurkar and Dr. Rosie Alegado, whose dedication and perseverance has been remarkable in overcoming obstacles and hurdles that could never have been expected.”

The new lab is being supported with up to $3.9 million in CARES funds from the City and County of Honolulu. However, the partnership was structured in phases, with $1.1 million being made immediately available to stand up the lab in the first phase, and then pay for tests on an as-needed basis in phases 2 and 3.

Photo courtesy: City and County of Honolulu.

The partnership can ultimately provide 50,000 diagnostic COVID-19 tests available to Oʻahu residents, administered in partnership with Community Health Centers around the island. In addition, 49,000 COVID-19 antibody tests can also be made available as part of a broader population study to identify patterns and levels of COVID-19 exposure locally.

“This lab provides immediate assistance to impacted communities and frontline workers and dramatically reduce test turnaround time,” said Josh Stanbro, the City’s chief resilience officer. “Having this lab capacity on island is critical in case we face another spike, and takes advantage of the strong research and data background at the University of Hawaiʻi for any future epidemics we may face.”

To obtain more information on the City’s COVID-19 response and where to go to get a test, visit https://www.oneoahu.org/covid19-testing.

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